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Japanese Weaves Using One Ring Size
Article © MAIL User: Grift

My first attempt at chainmaile was a simple blockhead coif using European 4 in 1 and 1/4 inch inner diameter rings. Upon completion of the coif, I took a long hard look at it. I then thought about the various examples of chainmaile and other armor I had seen in movies. Influenced by movies such as Braveheart, Excalibur, and Ladyhawke, I felt the need to try and produce something with a very polished finished look. While the "ring-scale" I saw in Ladyhawke was lovely to look at, I knew it was completely beyond my skill and means to make. I then remember all the armor seen in the Oriental movies such as Shogun, the Kung-fu television series and research I had done. I set my eyes on this.

My first thought was to actually try and make brigantine using 6 in 1 but I couldn't come up with the steel for the plates. The chainmaile used to fill in the joint areas of Samurai armor caught my attention. I could not find any real clear pictures of any, so I made an assumption that they simply wove it using one ring size like the European styles.

The reason behind this assumption was tooling. Back in that time period there was only home manufacturing. There were no massive machines to turn and cut links or even make the wire. All this had to be done by hand. So they were going to use every bit of material and all their tools as efficiently as possible.

This led me to attempt the same, with a few exceptions. I would forgo the wire making process. I would use one mandrel and turn links of only one size.

Once again, tools drove the Oriental armor smith and that was the jig for pulling out the wire from the metal stock he had. The wire gauge he could make would determine what size links he would need for the armor and by that, what size mandrel.

Like that Oriental master, wire drove my decision of link size. I went to the local welding supply house and asked for some 16 gauge wire. They didn't have a conversion chart at hand for gauge conversion to thousandths of an inch. So they made a guess. I didn't know any better at the time and it was in a sealed box. So I wandered off with what I thought was 45 lbs of 16 gauge wire. I didn't know it at the time but .045" mig welding wire is smaller than 18 gauge.

I got home and was naturally surprised. I wanted to make the best of it so I got my quarter inch mandrel, turned a few links and tried weaving them. The result was less than appealing. There was just way too much empty space in any of the weaves I tried with that mandrel.

I thought about the size of the wire and the how many links I could get through a reasonable size link. In this case "reasonable" being the size of bar stock I could buy at the local home center. I settled on 3/16ths diameter. I turned a short coil, cut the links and tried a small weave. Again, there was lots of room in the links with Oriental 4 or 6 in 1. So I decided to try a few doubled. They fit nicely and all the links supported each other and kept the chain from looking messy when laid out flat.

After some work I decided to look at the possibilities for larger gauge/ring size combinations. Using the formula for area "A=pi*r^2" I figured out the area of the wire gauge and the area of the inner diameter of the link. In my case the wire diameter is .045 inch. I then took the area of a link and divided it by the area of the wire. These are the results I got for a few common gauges and ring sizes.

Ring ID

As you can see, it's simply a matter now of choosing how much play you want available in the flat rings. With this chart is "how many more links might fit in this link?" I have been working
with 12 links with 18 gauge wire. As you can see 3/16th inch link can supposedly hold 15 links. I can say from experience that I might be able to fit one more link into a 3/16th link. So use this chart with a bit of common sense and leave yourself some free room.

Good luck and happy weaving.

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